By Cooper Drummond
VALHALLA – On Sunday, October 2, more than 1,000 people came out to Westchester Community College’s campus for the 2022 Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association website, Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia that gradually worsens memory, thinking and behavior. In late stages, people with Alzheimer’s lose the ability to respond to their environment and hold conversation. It is the most common dementia, making up 60-80% of all dementia cases in the United States.
Older age increases the chance of onset. In 2020, there were 410,000 people over the age of 65 with Alzheimer’s living in New York State. Cases can sometimes happen before the age of 65, which is known as early-onset Alzheimer’s.
“So today is all about two different areas,” said David Sobel, the executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Hudson Valley Chapter. “One is research: we need to find the cause and the cure for Alzheimer’s disease; we want to put an end to Alzheimer’s. But at the same time, we have people living with Alzheimer’s, we have caregivers, we have family members and they need our help, too.”
In 2021, there were 563,000 caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s disease in New York State. 17.0% of them said they were in poor physical health, 28.4% of them said they had depression and they collectively put in 835,000,000 hours of unpaid care. In 2017, 16% of all hospice patients had a primary diagnosis of dementia. In 2018, there was a 23.7% readmission rate for hospital patients with dementia.
So far, over $500K has been raised this year in the Hudson Valley Chapter. The goal is to raise another $200K to reach this year’s goal. “We are hoping that we’ll have all of our wonderful participants continue to raise money through the end of the year,” said Sobel.
A new experimental drug, lecanemab, has so far shown promising results in reducing cognitive decline. “We had a wonderful breakthrough this week . . . which we hope will open the door for other treatments down the line,” said Sobel.
“We see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we’ve been staring down that tunnel for a long time,” said Cindy Shmerler, an Alzheimer’s Association Hudson Valley Chapter Board Member. Her grandmother and great-grand mother suffered from Alzheimer’s.
For more information on programs and services, call 1-800-272-3900 or go to alz.org/hudsonvalley.